Thursday, October 30, 2008

(Not food)

I found myself back at my previous favorite Chinese restaurant tonight. My current favorite Chinese restaurant was forced to close a few weeks ago when the building it was in was condemned after some speeding asshole in a SUV bounced off of four cars, flipped onto its roof on the sidewalk, and caused a fire in the building it careened into. He also hit a parking meter with such force that it was projected through a second-story window. Of course, no one in the SUV was severely injured (although a couple of them had to be removed with "the jaws of life"). So, back at my old place, I noticed a new colorful array of specials posted on the wall. Actually, they were the same specials that had been posted before, but someone had decided that different colored paper for each of the specials would present a less drab appearance than all white paper (and it does!). Frantically, I began to search for the sign that had always mystified me. Apparently, my Chinese restaurant has a sideline business selling garbage bags. I guess they get them at such a good discount that they figured they could make a few bucks selling them on the side. The sign never fails to make me smile. It reads: "Garbage (Not food) Bags (1) box for $11 (2) boxes $21." Even more mysteriously, the new sign also included the word "Actual" (quotes included), hovering alone in the upper righthand corner. As you can imagine, that (Not food) has been like a Zen koan to me. I've studied it for years and it still mystifies. I mean, what could the author have been thinking? Is he suggesting that given the chance, Americans might order garbage to eat and be disappointed that the garbage bags aren't edible? Or, perhaps, does it suggest that Americans, barraged by so many foreign words on the menu, might be easily confused, forget what the meaning of "garbage" is, and give it a try along with their pork fried rice? And what does that "Actual" signify now? Were the previous garbage bags only imaginary? Was the previous sign not taken seriously enough? Like me, did other customers think it might be some sort of cosmic joke? Is that "Actual" there to assure them that the garbage bags do, in fact, exist? See what I mean?! The questions are endless!


Unlike UG ("the appearance of a winner makes a winner" Really? Is that all there is to it? Have we become this superficial? Does appearance and demeanor trump all? I think you may be right!) or Xmastime ("Obama's alarmingly easy to look at"), I don't have a man crush on Barack Obama. When I saw him speak in Hoboken on behalf of Bob Menendez during his Senate race, I walked away mid-speech, unimpressed. He was so mannered and polished (pundits and the press prefer to say "cool" and "calm") that I wondered if he creaked when he walked, so well-rehearsed in delivering the Democratic platitudes, that it was actually off-putting (even before his recent Oprah-style campaign ad, he reminded me of an infomercial pitchman). I was hoping for something different and all I saw was more of the same (another Bill Clinton disciple, and by that I mean a Democrat who talks about tax cuts and steers just enough to the right to get elected). And when Obama opted out of public campaign financing as the money began to roll in and figured he could outspend his opponent by a huge margin, he revealed himself not as a man of principle, but as a typical opportunistic politician, a camera-friendly alternative to the grating Hillary Clinton, whose timing couldn't have been better.

Before you get the wrong idea, I probably should have prefaced these remarks by saying that I think the country will be better off whoever is elected on Tuesday. As the most moderate Republican nominated in my lifetime, I don't see McCain as the bogeyman that the hyperbolic media is now making him out to be (remember when Reagan's election was supposed to usher in World War III?). McCain's affiliation with the same political party of the current president has been an albatross that even the most liberal of Republicans hasn't been able to shake. I could almost feel sorry for the guy, but then I remember that he is also an opportunistic politician (I have to admit that a part of me hopes he wins just to prove all the worthless political gasbags wrong--that would be almost as entertaining as when the Giants proved all the worthless sports gasbags wrong).

Which brings me to my main point: I have never been inspired by, admired, or respected a living politician in my entire life. Not one. Could this be because I'm from New Jersey and currently reside in one of the most politically corrupt counties to ever exist (all Democrats, btw)? Perhaps. If man is born to fail (and how could it be otherwise), I believe he fails most spectacularly in politics. Look around. Read your history. Everywhere ruination. In what other human endeavor (that doesn't involve a supernatural being) has so much been promised and so little delivered?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Shut the fuck up!" Part 2

I wrote about a neighbor, a single mother who constantly screams at her young daughter, in my second post in January 2007. This morning another neighbor lost his patience with her. It was my relatively new neighbor, The Groaner, the one man horror movie soundtrack I've also written about before. Just as I was about to head out for work this morning, he burst out of his apartment into the hallway between his apartment and The Screamer's apartment and let loose with a "Will you shut the fuck up!" that reverberated throughout the building. He continued to berate her at high volume for her various offenses: screaming every morning without any concern for her neighbors and constantly calling her daughter "a stupid idiot" (I've heard her call her "a fucking idiot"). His case fell apart a bit at the end when he turned into The Big Bad Wolf and threatened to kick her fucking door in if she continued with the screaming. I can't imagine what effect this was having on the young girl who has probably been embarrassed by her mother's atrocious behavior numerous times before. I've often felt guilty for not confronting this woman myself in the past. I've held my tongue because I know people can be touchy when it comes to criticizing their parenting skills and didn't want to intrude. As a single guy with no kids, I doubted my argument would carry much weight with her (I always envisioned the conversation ending abruptly with a "Do you have kids?"). I'm hoping this second outburst will have a positive result, but I'm not hopeful. The first outburst quieted her down briefly before the guy attempted suicide and was later removed from the building. I wouldn't be surprised if the cops haven't already visited The Groaner over his threatening remarks. And if The Groaner gets thrown out, does this mean I'm going to have to step up and finally unload on this crazy bitch? Actually, completely losing my shit just might be the thing to cause her to rethink her approach to parenting. I should probably prepare a speech and keep it handy for the day I flip my lid and burst into the hallway raving like my madmen neighbors.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I just saw that someone found this site by googling "spitting orgy." Yuck! Before that the oddest search that led someone here was "masculine joys." I suspect that gentleman (I know it had to be a guy) probably went away somewhat disappointed (no naked men, no joy).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Classing up the joint

I was about halfway through my jukebox picks (and half in the bag) last week at my uncle's bar, Massa's Tavern, when Chuck Wepner and his entourage (actually, his wife and another couple) walked in. I was in the middle of my Husker Du set of Turn on the News and Celebrated Summer when they arrived. For a man approaching 70, he's still an imposing figure. This wasn't the first time I had met him. The Bayonne Bleeder and I had once donated blood at the same time at the Catholic War Veterans post. Chuck immediately bought a round for everyone in the bar. This is what makes Massa's so great. You go in for a couple beers and before you know it every one's buying you a round. And by the time you reciprocate, you're on your tenth beer. Even more amazing, you can usually do this for less than $20. For a drunk on a budget, it's a dream come true! After a while, the tall man who was with Chuck approached the Internet jukebox. Strangely enough, he was wearing a beret and had unusual facial hair. He seemed to be having difficulty negotiating the jukebox menus. As it turned out, he was having trouble spelling Edith Piaf's last name. I helped him out. Unfortunately, I still had about ten songs to go in my set and he and Chuck left before he got a chance to hear his selection which, of course, was resoundingly sneered at by the regulars. Having felt the wrath of the regulars before, I wasn't surprised. There's only so much class you can take when you're getting your drunk on.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Random clowns

We're all familiar with the costumed characters (Barney, Big Bird, King Kong, etc.) standing on the side of the road waving at passing cars supposedly to entice drivers into shopping at a particular store. I can't say this marketing strategy has ever worked with me, but the proliferation of these characters along our roadsides suggests it works with some people (people with kids, I reckon). Yesterday, while driving on Route 9, I noticed a group of clowns beckoning before the entrance to a shopping center. Halloween is approaching, I figured, and a costume store had commissioned these clowns to get the word out. A mile or two later, however, on the opposite side of the highway, I saw a lone clown standing and waving in front of a wooded area. What was the point of this random clown? Was he affiliated with the other clowns or was he some sort of renegade clown, waving at cars without a sponsor or proper credentials? These questions led to other more disturbing questions. What if only a small percentage of these roadside characters are connected to commerce? What if a large number of them are really mentally unbalanced individuals who have jumped on the roadside character bandwagon? Or, even more sinister, what if there was a conspiracy afoot to disperse random clowns along our highways just to fuck with our heads and make us buy shit?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Twenty years

I've been looking forward to getting drunk tonight since yesterday. That can't be good. Twenty years ago today, as William Maxwell put it, "The worst that could happen had happened, and the shine went out of everything." I hope the crowd at my uncle's bar is in the mood for The Ramones, Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Replacements, Husker Du, and The Pogues tonight because that's what I'll be playing. Here's to you, Dave.

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